#18 Have a consumer audit done by your electric company

Today we spent several hours with a representative of our local electric company co-op as he went through our house from top to bottom looking for ways to help us save money on our electricity.   He used the new infrared camera to detect cold spots (leaks) in our walls where there is little or no insulation.  He used a smoke stick (no actual smoke was used) to detect air movement around/near windows, outlets, etc.  He inspected our duct work, our attic, etc. and gave us tips on what we can do to make things run more efficiently.  His official report and recommendations will come in the mail at a later time but here are a few things I remember:

  1. seal up the joints (where one piece of duct work hooks to another) in your duct work.  And duct tape is NOT good enough.  There is special tape and a paint- on substance (whose name has left me) to use for that.
  2. seal up air leaks around door frames with non-expanding spray foam.
  3. leaks around your foundation can be sealed with expanding spray foam
  4. make sure your exhaust fan duct work is in proper shape (he discovered that ours was broke- this let cold air come right into the house and exhausted the shower steam into the crawl space rather than outside)
  5. make sure your dryer vent has a flap at it’s exit.  This keeps air out when not in use (and keeps small creatures like kittens out of your dryer vent too! lol)
  6. Fluorescent light bulbs should last for more than a year (2-3 years is good).  If they do not, there may be an electrical problem in your wiring.
  7. Good duct work has close to equal balance between cold air returns and heat registers.  If there’s not enough air coming in to your furnace (from the cold air return), there won’t be much air coming out (the heated air through your register).  Like trying to breathe with a stuffy nose.  This restricts the speed the hot air can travel at, which makes it hard to heat areas furthest from your furnace.
  8. Furnace Filters and traditional “pink panther” insulation are made of basically the same stuff.  Air flows through your filter and so it will flow through your insulation as well. 
  9. When getting quotes for insulation from contractors or installers.  Don’t just compare price.  Compare the number of  bags of insulation they plan to use.  Often times what appears more expensive, might actually be a better insulation job instead.
  10. When trying to increase your homes efficiency, look at the pay back.  How quickly an improvement will pay for itself.  If you can’t afford to fix everything, start with the improvements that will pay for themselves the fastest.

Hope you find this helpful!

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